So many adults have halitosis - one in four, according to a study from the University of Buffalo - that you'd think we would have found some good way to tell a friend or co-workers that they have bad breath. However, virtually all advice columnists say we haven't, and for the most part that appears to be true.
Recently, Rex Huppke, a writer for the Chicago Tribune, received a letter from a woman complaining that one of her co-workers has terrible breath. Apparently this individual does not use oral care probiotics or specialty breath fresheners, because the reader, Teri, says that the stench of this particular bad breath makes her nauseated.
For help, Huppke turns to Liberal Arts Professor Jim Drobnick of the Ontario College of Art and Design, who wrote a book on the cultural history of odors and smelling.
Drobnick states that people need to be attuned to their co-workers' feelings, since things that smell bad in one culture may not be considered unpleasant in another.
Unfortunately, halitosis is almost universally reviled in the U.S., meaning that if someone you work with has it, you can do one of two things. Either try to ignore it, or pop a specialty breath freshening mint and offer one to the offender. Either way, be discreet.
Think about how you might feel. It can be difficult to find out that you give off an offensive odor, particularly when many people already try very hard to freshen their breath and clean their teeth. What are they doing wrong?
For one thing, they may not be cleaning their tongue in the right way. Many Americans use their toothbrush to scrub their tongue, but fewer actually own a specialty tongue scraper.
The importance of purchasing such a device can hardly be overstated. The tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria. Its buds capture food particles, oils, proteins, dead cells and other residues. Over time, the microbes living on your tongue thrive and multiply.
They can experience a particularly big population boost if your palate and tongue get dry, as they do when you sleep with your mouth open. This is why, after a night of mouth-breathing, you get morning breath.
How many bacteria are on the tongue? Billions! More than 600 species of microorganisms live in your mouth, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. When they get out of hand, try scraping your tongue and rinsing with an odor-neutralizing rinse.